Tuesday, May 20, 2008


One of my kids is back on a visit. When you meet your kid after a few months' of absence, you suddenly realize how fast they grow up. The absence gives you a better insight into a lot of different aspects of your relationship with your child. The compartmentalisation was there even earlier, but now you notice it more. You realize that you are just one small part of your kid's life and that in reality you do not have much in common.

When and how does a child start compartmentalizing his or her life? Is it the perception that some of what they might be doing might be unacceptable to their parents or the society they belong to? I remember my just turned teenage daughter asking me jokingly if I would kill her if I found out she had a boyfriend. I don't remember the response I gave at that time but I guess that is how kids start to learn dividing their life into compartments. One compartment to be shared with parents, another one for peers and friends, and yet another for experimenting. Trying not to ruffle feathers and yet testing the limits imposed on them.

I guess this is nothing new and has been happening throughout human history. Now we have a fancy phrase to define it: disseminating information on a need to know basis. In most cases I suppose this behavior would be a blessing because it would save parents from unnecessary pain and yet allow the kids to experiment and learn their own lessons in life. But being excluded from a significant part of the kids' lives would be a heartache in itself, especially for parents who would love to micro-manage their kids' lives, this would be a disaster.

One of the biggest burdens that growing up throws at kids is having the liberty of choice. But how many young adults would actually be comfortable with the choice of having to subdivide their lives into separate compartments? Must involve a lot of pain and guilt, this Cornelian Dilemma.............

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